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Tag Archives: Moral Debates on Prostitution

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This article analyzes celebrities’ norm entrepreneurship through a specific instance of its enactment: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s media campaign against human trafficking (the K&M Campaign). Drawing from literatures about celebrities and politics and norm entrepreneurship, and using qualitative-interpretive methods of data collection and analysis, I show how the K&M Campaign provides an early, high-profile example of this norm entrepreneurship that demonstrates why and how celebrities communicate norms to the broader public. To illustrate, I show how changing political-economic conditions have facilitated celebrities’ ascendance in the polity, and I argue that Kutcher and Moore have emerged under these conditions to actively oppose human trafficking. Using their considerable resources, they have promoted an “individual responsibility” norm that instructs the public to avoid coercive sexual and labor activities and trafficking situations. I then argue further that the K&M Campaign provides broader lessons about norms’ fluidity: even when they are seemingly incontrovertible and their entrepreneurial proponents (celebrities) have extensive resources, norms may be contradicted and contentious nonetheless. In this case, by promoting an individual responsibility norm, Kutcher and Moore inadvertently conveyed retrograde gender norms and minimized the importance of broader structural solutions to human trafficking.

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The Amsterdam Red-Light district is a globalised mass-entertainment place for sex consumption. But the visitors touring the Red-Light district are far more diverse than sex tourists: men, women, gay, straight, stag or cultural tourists tour this place to feel the thrill of desire and disgust. The paper documents this process of commodification by these visitors, engaging with their lived experiences through ethnographic research and in-depth interviews. The paper shows the diversity of the consumption practices and representations of the spectacle of commodified sex, explaining how the emotions experienced by those touring the sex district draw on intersectional belongings (gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity). Intertwining affective and moral geographies, it concludes by arguing that the symbolic consumption of the Red-Light district cannot necessarily be predicted by virtue of standard categories of belonging, with identity formation and the consumption of sex being shaped by a complex dynamic of looks and gazes.

Hynson, Rachel. “Count, Capture, and Reeducate”: The Campaign to Rehabilitate Cuba’s Female Sex Workers, 1959–1966, in: Journal of the History of Sexuality 24, 1, January 2015
pp. 125-153

In 1964 Cuba’s fledgling movie industry collaborated with Soviet filmmakers to create Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a dizzying expressionist tale of four Cubans whose problems were ameliorated by the revolution. One vignette features María, a young prostitute abandoned by her boyfriend after he finds her entertaining a US businessman.1 The film insinuates that sex workers, once victims of US imperialism and capitalism, were rescued and reeducated by the government campaign against prostitution.2 However, Soy Cuba received a cool reception on the island. Moviegoers and critics rejected the dream-like aesthetic of the film and demanded more “realistic” depictions of their revolution.3 This perceived disconnect between cinematic representation and revolutionary reality parallels the disjuncture between the official discourse on prostitution and the complex experiences of female sex workers in early revolutionary Cuba. [End Page 125]

The Cuban government and the standard historical accounts both describe the campaign to rehabilitate prostitutes as one of the great successes of the revolution, a monolithic movement that supposedly originated at the top and was implemented uniformly across the island.4 But this story obscures the lived experiences of state officials, provincial reformers, and sex workers who participated in a campaign that was complex, diverse, and conflictive. The campaign officially lasted from 1959 to 1965, during which time officials in the Department of Social Ills (Departamento de Lacras Sociales) at the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) decided policies, as did regional government officials and members of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), and other state organizations. Policies to combat sex work were initiated in all of the country’s six provinces, and while some provincial reformers acted on their own initiative, efforts at reeducation (reeducación) ultimately complemented the rehabilitation efforts of high-level government agents.

This article examines the revolutionaries’ initial attempts to rehabilitate the island’s thirty to forty thousand sex workers, paying special attention to the rhetoric and strategies deployed by reformers outside of the capital city of Havana.5 It argues that members from groups such as the FMC and National Revolutionary Police (PNR) helped initiate the antiprostitution campaign, often operating without official interference until 1962, when federal officials assumed greater control over the campaign and when penal work farms became a tool of reform. During the first six years of the revolution, official discourse transitioned from viewing sex workers as victims to categorizing them as counterrevolutionaries. Key to this analysis are the methods used to identify prostitutes (prostitutas). Rather than seeking confirmation that women exchanged sex for money, reformers identified sex workers according to their attire, behavior, race, place of residence, and sexual partners. I also demonstrate that the revolutionary campaign adopted a broad and flexible definition of prostituta, one that allowed government officials to target the behavior of all Cuban women, not merely that of those who identified as sex workers.

Full article available here. 

 

Dina Francesca Haynes, The Celebritization of Human Trafficking, in: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol 653, Issue 1, pp. 25 – 45.

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Human trafficking, and especially sex trafficking, is not only susceptible to alluring and sensational narratives, it also plays into the celebrity-as-rescuer ideal that receives considerable attention from the media, the public, and policy-makers. While some celebrities develop enough expertise to speak with authority on the topic, many others are neither knowledgeable nor accurate in their efforts to champion antitrafficking causes. Prominent policy-makers allow celebrity activists to influence their opinions and even consult with them for advice regarding public policies. Emblematic of larger, fundamental problems with the dominant discourse, funding allocations, and legislation in current antitrafficking initiatives in the United States and elsewhere, celebrity activism is not significantly advancing the eradication of human trafficking and may even be doing harm by diverting attention from aspects of the problem and solution that sorely require attention.

Also see:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/dina-haynes/when-human-trafficking-becomes-cause-celebre

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The present paper deals with Chinese transnational sex labour migration in the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the country’s major city. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the prostitution milieu of Douala between 2008 and 2012, and on information collected from both scholarly and popular literature, this contribution shows how the development in this African city of what can be called Chinese sexoscapes has induced the reconfiguration of the local geography of commercialised sex work, which for so long was dominated by native sex workers. The paper also demonstrates how many disgruntled Duala sex workers dealt with the so-called Chinese sex invasion of their city by relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterised in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment). The research argues that this local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.

McGrow, Lauren. ‘Doing It (Feminist Theology and Faith-Based Outreach) with Sex Workers – Beyond Christian Rescue and the Problem-Solving Approach’, Feminist Theology Vol 25/2 (2017): 150-169.

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This paper problematises the usual Christian motif of rescue of sex workers that is disseminated by most faith-based groups working in the field. By focusing upon the problem of prostitution and individual rescue as the primary solution, broader relationships of accountability are neglected and complicated sex worker identifications become impossible. New strategies for thinking about human sexuality are needed that incorporate indecency as a way of questioning traditional moral representations reproduced by Christian outreach projects. As well, three strategies are outlined that could form counter-narratives for ministry and feminist theological reflection not based upon sex work as a problem to be resolved but instead carving out creative space for mutual engagement between pastoral practitioners and sex industry workers. 

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This chapter describes my experiences of conducting research on commercial sex in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was conducted as part of a larger British Academy–Leverhulme Trust-funded study that examined the policing and legal regulation of commercial sex in Belfast (Northern Ireland) along with three other cities: Manchester (England), Berlin (Germany) and Prague (Czech Republic). This study provided the first empirical analysis of commercial sex in the jurisdiction and was instrumental in shedding light on prevalence rates for those involved in the industry as well as providing demographic information on the age, nationality and sexual orientation of sex workers along with the sector worked in, whether on-street or off-street (Ellison 2015). While academics and researchers are now well attuned to the varieties and differences in the organisation of commercial sex both within and between jurisdictions, what is less well studied and understood are the ways in which attitudes to commercial sex are deeply embedded in local political cultures (Ellison 2015; Zimmerman 2012). In the chapter, I consider my role as a researcher and highlight some of the difficulties that I experienced conducting what was seen as controversial research in the politically, socially and culturally conservative context of Northern Ireland. In this respect, I situate the discussion within the Northern Ireland Assembly’s decision to legislate for Lord Morrow’s (of the Democratic Unionist Party, henceforth DUP) Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill that included a number of provisions to provide support to victims of human trafficking but controversially also included specific provisions to make it a criminal offence to ‘pay for the sexual services of a person’ (Clause 15) in emulation of the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of criminalisation of demand.